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Keep Sweet, Pray and Obey


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My wife and I binged it yesterday. It's pretty interesting (especially since we live in St George and have driven out to Hildale/Colorado City multiple times).

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My wife and I watched all the episodes last week.  It was very sad and depressing how one man destroyed a community.  What I found very puzzling was that even after it came to light that Jeffs was a hypocrite and a sexual predictor, there were still people willing to follow him. 

I'm interested in Utah history, and over the past 20 years my wife and I have visited Colorado City several times.  It was clear when Jeffs took over how the cultural of the town changed.  The folks there were never very open to strangers, but they would talk to you at their store and the gas station.  Under Jeffs rule, the walls and fences came up. Almost everything was behind a wall.  We were always followed when we drove through the town, and when we went into a store, kids would run and people went out of their way to avoid us.

We went down there last year.  Things have really opened up.  There is a larger school, more stores, and they even have a brewery now.  It seems like there has been more of a influx of non (or ex) FLDS into the town.  A lot more normal cloths and much fewer prairie dresses.

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14 hours ago, Teancum said:

Has anyone started watching this or do you plan to?  I have not yet but plan to.

I watched EP1. I now need therapy while curled up on the bottom my shower floor.

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1 hour ago, sunstoned said:

It was very sad and depressing how one man destroyed a community. 

It was a fairly messed up existence, even before Warren came along. I get that it once held the hallmarks of a functioning community but there were some genuinely awful things happening at it's core.

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14 hours ago, Teancum said:

Has anyone started watching this or do you plan to?  I have not yet but plan to.

https://www.netflix.com/title/81292539

I binged it. Echoing the interesting part. I think the thing that I pulled me was how this evolved. To me it showed the potential weakness of a small tight and insular community. This likely couldn't happen as easily in a larger more spread out one. 

But overall it was a good watch. There were parts of me that wished for more of the "other side" per se. More of the stories from those that are still in it. I want to know how they processed this. How they see their community at this point, etc. But that's a story I'll probably never get. 

 

With luv,

BD

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7 hours ago, BlueDreams said:

I binged it. Echoing the interesting part. I think the thing that I pulled me was how this evolved. To me it showed the potential weakness of a small tight and insular community. This likely couldn't happen as easily in a larger more spread out one. 

The interesting thing about this is that if you've studied the history of this community the Church bears quite a bit of responsibility for creating their insular nature in the 1950s.

If it wasn't for the raids in the 50s which the Church pushed hard the community might not have become so closed and the environment that created Warren Jeffs might have at least been tempered.

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1 hour ago, JLHPROF said:

The interesting thing about this is that if you've studied the history of this community the Church bears quite a bit of responsibility for creating their insular nature in the 1950s.

I don't know this LDS/FLDS history. I do know the Church was much smaller in the 1950s and that Evangelicalism was dominant in the US.  My understanding is this. Within that dominance, litmus tests were everywhere and protestant anti-faith[1] movements had fertile ground.

Considering this climate was ripe with US-based threats to the Church, I can see Church leaders being motivated to reduce the visibility of splinter groups - groups that could (unintentionally) provide fuel for Evangelicals who actively despised the Church's existence.

[1] 'anti-faith' here means anti any non-protestant faiths that were on their radar

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3 hours ago, Chum said:

I don't know this LDS/FLDS history. I do know the Church was much smaller in the 1950s and that Evangelicalism was dominant in the US.  My understanding is this. Within that dominance, litmus tests were everywhere and protestant anti-faith[1] movements had fertile ground.

Considering this climate was ripe with US-based threats to the Church, I can see Church leaders being motivated to reduce the visibility of splinter groups - groups that could (unintentionally) provide fuel for Evangelicals who actively despised the Church's existence.

[1] 'anti-faith' here means anti any non-protestant faiths that were on their radar

I do know this LDS/FLDS history and regardless of their motivation, Arizona law enforcement was strongly influenced by Church leadership in the 1950s to shut down Short Creek resulting in the raids.
The result of the raids was a completely closed off and insular society from the mid 50s to the raids in Texas in the mid 2000s.

50 years of isolation as a result of government and Church persecution, the end result being Warren Jeffs and the crimes on this show.
Here's one good starter text on what happened https://www.amazon.com/Kidnapped-That-Land-Government-Polygamist/dp/0874805287/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

Edited by JLHPROF
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23 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I do know this LDS/FLDS history and regardless of their motivation, Arizona law enforcement was strongly influenced by Church leadership in the 1950s to shut down Short Creek resulting in the raids.
The result of the raids was a completely closed off and insular society from the mid 50s to the raids in Texas in the mid 2000s.

50 years of isolation as a result of government and Church persecution, the end result being Warren Jeffs and the crimes on this show.
Here's one good starter text on what happened https://www.amazon.com/Kidnapped-That-Land-Government-Polygamist/dp/0874805287/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

Any other insights you have? I'd like to learn anything I missed. 

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3 hours ago, Chum said:

I don't know this LDS/FLDS history. I do know the Church was much smaller in the 1950s and that Evangelicalism was dominant in the US.  My understanding is this. Within that dominance, litmus tests were everywhere and protestant anti-faith[1] movements had fertile ground.

Considering this climate was ripe with US-based threats to the Church, I can see Church leaders being motivated to reduce the visibility of splinter groups - groups that could (unintentionally) provide fuel for Evangelicals who actively despised the Church's existence.

[1] 'anti-faith' here means anti any non-protestant faiths that were on their radar

This time period in the church is also not my forte. I found an article in Slate that does mention the church in the lead up to the raid. There are some errors...like the fact that there were a few excommunications earlier than mentioned. I'm also coincidentally reading Saint 3 write now and am on the chapters right before this raid discussing the difficult work of actually kicking out the polygamy entirely.  Both to me points to a more complicated relationship between church-government-polygamist families/groups. The government basically clipped the church both in forms of representation and soon via prosecution, which is what led to the first manifesto. The church changes policy to limit polygamy. The larger public/government hones in on the loopholes with political/social ramifications for the saints. The church officially blocks all new marriages in the 2nd manifesto. Newspapers and the public find new marriage on the local level and magnifies them to large systemic promotion of polygamy. The church starts to more strongly enforce policies on those who continue to refuse to abide the church's policies. Those who insist on polygamy as a higher law who have either left our are excommunicated from the mainstream church begin to separate and form their own groups. The polygamist groups begin to isolate more and continue practice what they see as a "higher" law or way. Which also means the main way people outside these isolated communities begin to interact with them is by the problems that come from them in a larger society that is strongly biased against them and a larger church they're disaffiliated from who often pays the consequences for their reputation.  

The raid was the 3rd and biggest one on a group that was already starting to isolate strongly under a belief of the righteous against the wicked. This fortified this, though according to the article (and probably the doc, though it touches pre-warren era lightly) this was reducing a little in terms of work and geographic location, as there was a large group that lived in SLC pre-warren. The impulse to isolate, rigid teachings, and generational heritage made it easy for Jeffs to keep pushing the group into further cultic behavior and to leave abusive/dysfunctional behaviors unchecked. 

 

https://slate.com/human-interest/2008/04/the-legacy-of-an-infamous-1953-raid-on-a-polygamous-enclave.html

 

With luv,

BD

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On 6/19/2022 at 9:09 AM, Teancum said:

Has anyone started watching this or do you plan to?  I have not yet but plan to.

https://www.netflix.com/title/81292539

lol or this one: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8019406/

Or episode 7 of this series:  https://www.hulu.com/series/cults-and-extreme-belief-732b89b1-7af0-4bed-9a28-6ca51d2b1e69

 

Is there anyone who hasn't put out a documentary of Warren Jeffs?

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20 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Any other insights you have? I'd like to learn anything I missed. 

https://mormonfundamentalism.com is a pretty good source.  It is maintained by Brian C. Hales who also has written on Joseph Smith's polygamy.  He actually got interested in polygamist groups because of a family member who joined one of them - https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/testimonies/scholars/brian-c-hales.

https://mormonfundamentalism.com/polygamous-groups/flds-the-fundamentalist-lds-church/ has a pretty good rundown on the history of the FLDS.  A big turning point for the church was when Leroy Johnson became the leading apostle in the Priesthood Council and he believed in the "one man doctrine".  Instead of the Priesthood Council being the head of the church, it was the leader of the Priesthood Council who was the head of the church.  He dismissed several members (who went on to start the "Second Ward" in Colorado City) and never appointed new ones.  His successor was Rulon Jeffs who also believed in the "one man doctrine" and let the council just fall away.

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Just now, webbles said:

https://mormonfundamentalism.com is a pretty good source.  It is maintained by Brian C. Hales who also has written on Joseph Smith's polygamy.  He actually got interested in polygamist groups because of a family member who joined one of them - https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/testimonies/scholars/brian-c-hales.

https://mormonfundamentalism.com/polygamous-groups/flds-the-fundamentalist-lds-church/ has a pretty good rundown on the history of the FLDS.  A big turning point for the church was when Leroy Johnson became the leading apostle in the Priesthood Council and he believed in the "one man doctrine".  Instead of the Priesthood Council being the head of the church, it was the leader of the Priesthood Council who was the head of the church.  He dismissed several members (who went on to start the "Second Ward" in Colorado City) and never appointed new ones.  His successor was Rulon Jeffs who also believed in the "one man doctrine" and let the council just fall away.

Thanks, as always! 

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7 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I don't doubt your take on this and it makes sense, but I also think it let's Warren off of the hook too much.  He single handedly took the FLDS down after his father died, and I don't think we can blame that on raids that happened decades before.

I also don't know that we can blame the FLDS' views of women (as a commodity) on isolation and persecution either.

Certainly not trying to let Warren off the hook.  He is his own special kind of evil.  And certainly Short Creek had issues with underage marriages before he was even born.
I'm more interested in the environment that was created that allowed Warren and his father before him to gain power and institute these radical changes, allowed these things to fester and expand.  Limited contact with the outside world was a big part of that.

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Just now, JLHPROF said:

Certainly not trying to let Warren off the hook.  He is his own special kind of evil.  And certainly Short Creek had issues with underage marriages before he was even born.
I'm more interested in the environment that was created that allowed Warren and his father before him to gain power and institute these radical changes, allowed these things to fester and expand.  Limited contact with the outside world was a big part of that.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the documentary if you've seen it.

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1 minute ago, JLHPROF said:

Certainly not trying to let Warren off the hook.  He is his own special kind of evil.  And certainly Short Creek had issues with underage marriages before he was even born.
I'm more interested in the environment that was created that allowed Warren and his father before him to gain power and institute these radical changes, allowed these things to fester and expand.  Limited contact with the outside world was a big part of that.

JL, did you watch the topic's subject: "Keep Sweet, Pray and Obey" on Netflix? I think if you do you'll have your answer.

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16 minutes ago, BlueDreams said:

This time period in the church is also not my forte. I found an article in Slate that does mention the church in the lead up to the raid. There are some errors...like the fact that there were a few excommunications earlier than mentioned. I'm also coincidentally reading Saint 3 write now and am on the chapters right before this raid discussing the difficult work of actually kicking out the polygamy entirely.  Both to me points to a more complicated relationship between church-government-polygamist families/groups. The government basically clipped the church both in forms of representation and soon via prosecution, which is what led to the first manifesto. The church changes policy to limit polygamy. The larger public/government hones in on the loopholes with political/social ramifications for the saints. The church officially blocks all new marriages in the 2nd manifesto. Newspapers and the public find new marriage on the local level and magnifies them to large systemic promotion of polygamy. The church starts to more strongly enforce policies on those who continue to refuse to abide the church's policies. Those who insist on polygamy as a higher law who have either left our are excommunicated from the mainstream church begin to separate and form their own groups. The polygamist groups begin to isolate more and continue practice what they see as a "higher" law or way. Which also means the main way people outside these isolated communities begin to interact with them is by the problems that come from them in a larger society that is strongly biased against them and a larger church they're disaffiliated from who often pays the consequences for their reputation.  

The raid was the 3rd and biggest one on a group that was already starting to isolate strongly under a belief of the righteous against the wicked. This fortified this, though according to the article (and probably the doc, though it touches pre-warren era lightly) this was reducing a little in terms of work and geographic location, as there was a large group that lived in SLC pre-warren. The impulse to isolate, rigid teachings, and generational heritage made it easy for Jeffs to keep pushing the group into further cultic behavior and to leave abusive/dysfunctional behaviors unchecked. 

 

https://slate.com/human-interest/2008/04/the-legacy-of-an-infamous-1953-raid-on-a-polygamous-enclave.html

 

With luv,

BD

That's a good article.  It addresses my point.

  • Both church and state, however, refused to forget the polygamists at Short Creek. The Mormon Church, still struggling with its own relationship to plural marriage, pressured Utah and Arizona authorities to prosecute the fundamentalists’ flouting of state laws. (A small part of the Short Creek community sat on the Utah side of the border.) Small raids in 1935 and 1944 resulted in a handful of arrests, but nothing would compare to the raid of 1953.
     
  • Newspapers excoriated Arizona for the raid, seeing in it—against the backdrop of the growing Red Scare—the threat of a totalitarian state’s power over individual rights. And Americans, sensitive to the images of sobbing children being torn from their parents’ arms, defended the fundamentalists’ right to practice their religion and to raise their families as they saw fit. Only the Mormon Church seemed to endorse Arizona’s actions against the polygamists at Short Creek.
    Two years later, nearly all of the men, women, and children had returned to their town—and the already largely separatist fundamentalists further withdrew from the world, taking with them the lessons of the raid. The raid became a community reference point, underscoring the evil intentions of the outside world and the need to remain cut off from its influences. FLDS Church leaders used the raid as an excuse to tighten restrictions on clothing and hairstyles, ex-polygamist Carolyn Jessop writes in her memoir, Escape. 

It was government and Church prosecution that had the opposite effect that was intended.
They wanted to stop this polygamist group and its underage marriage.  So the raids happened.
The result was a completely withdrawn and isolated community that allowed evil like Jeffs free reign to implement restrictive policies and more abuse.
Imagine what might have happened if they'd have left them alone in the 1950s - they  might look a little more like the family on Sister Wives.

 

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20 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I don't doubt your take on this and it makes sense, but I also think it let's Warren off of the hook too much.  He single handedly took the FLDS down after his father died, and I don't think we can blame that on raids that happened decades before.

I also don't know that we can blame the FLDS' views of women (as a commodity) on isolation and persecution either.

This part I really wonder about this one. The degree of misogyny is by no means similar in all groups. I wonder how one became this hyper patriarchal while other groups maintained at least some relative balance on this.  

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14 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the documentary if you've seen it.

 

12 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

JL, did you watch the topic's subject: "Keep Sweet, Pray and Obey" on Netflix? I think if you do you'll have your answer.

Honestly, I haven't and I'm not sure I want to.  As a rule I hate these true crime documentaries - I watched the Hoffman one and it was unpleasant.  My wife watched that Making of a Murderer show and I also had no interest.  I haven't watched the UTBOH one either although I did read the book (it was terribly written).  I don't like watching or reading about psychos and sociopaths.

What I do have is an interest in Church history, and by connection in fundamentalist history because they are far more intertwined than either group would acknowledge.  The 20s and 30s are absolutely fascinating.
So I've read a lot of the same stuff people like Brian Hales and Michael Quinn collected and published and I am more than familiar with the history of both the Church in those days and the creation of the fundamentalist movement and how they both compare with what Joseph restored.  I can tell you anything you'd want to know about how fundamentalism appeared from within the Church in the 20s and 30s and its early history - its early days.
And that includes the 1950s Short Creek raids.

But any comparison with the Church and early fundamentalists ended somewhere around the 1970s, - the FLDS haven't followed anything that Joseph taught since their leader Leroy Johnson died in the 1980s and they were bad before that.
Both Rulon and Warren Jeffs turned that place into hell on earth and I have no interest in that because it has no resemblance to the early Utah Church or the restored gospel.
So I haven't decided if my interests care enough about recent criminals and immorality to actually watch that show.

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11 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

 

Honestly, I haven't and I'm not sure I want to.  As a rule I hate these true crime documentaries - I watched the Hoffman one and it was unpleasant.  My wife watched that Making of a Murderer show and I also had no interest.  I haven't watched the UTBOH one either although I did read the book (it was terribly written).  I don't like watching or reading about psychos and sociopaths.

What I do have is an interest in Church history, and by connection in fundamentalist history because they are far more intertwined than either group would acknowledge.  The 20s and 30s are absolutely fascinating.
So I've read a lot of the same stuff people like Brian Hales and Michael Quinn collected and published and I am more than familiar with the history of both the Church in those days and the creation of the fundamentalist movement and how they both compare with what Joseph restored.  I can tell you anything you'd want to know about how fundamentalism appeared from within the Church in the 20s and 30s and its early history - its early days.
And that includes the 1950s Short Creek raids.

But any comparison with the Church and early fundamentalists ended somewhere around the 1970s, - the FLDS haven't followed anything that Joseph taught since their leader Leroy Johnson died in the 1980s and they were bad before that.
Both Rulon and Warren Jeffs turned that place into hell on earth and I have no interest in that because it has no resemblance to the early Utah Church or the restored gospel.
So I haven't decided if my interests care enough about recent criminals and immorality to actually watch that show.

This one at least isn't comparable to UTBOH since that is a dramatisation with actors but Keep Sweet has no actors and includes a lot of interviews with former FLDS members (some who left before Warren and some who were forced out because they didn't support him).  

But I get what you are saying.

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1 hour ago, JLHPROF said:

the end result being Warren Jeffs and the crimes on this show

Warren Jeffs did not become a degenerate pervert because of persecution.  The isolation and the resulting control of Jeff’s was highly contributed to by persecution, but it was Jeff’s and others’ choices that took it to rape, etc, not the Church’s or the government.

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